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Celebrity Philanthropy News 2  3

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Black Tie International:
First International Widows Day at The United Nations

First Lady Sylvia Bongo Ondimba

First Lady Sylvia Bongo Ondimba
 of the Gabonese Republic


Video by media partner: South-South News

Cherie Blair

Lord Raj Loomba

Lord Raj Loomba

Ban Soon-Taek

Ban Soon-Taek

Heidi Hartmann

Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri,

Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri,
Permanent Representative of India to the
 United Nations
& Amir Dossal

Bronwen Booth & Cherie Blair

Bronwen Booth & Cherie Blair

Tas Dossal & Dave Cutler

Tas Dossal & Dave Cutler

Dave Cutler & Zecki Dossal

Dave Cutler & Zecki Dossal

Joyce Brooks, Cherie Blair & Heidi Hartmann

Joyce Brooks, Cherie Blair & Heidi Hartmann


First International Widows Day
at The United Nations
June 23, 2011

Photos by:  Joyce Brooks



23 June Event at UN Headquarters to Call Attention to the Plight of Widows

NEW YORK, N.Y. (June 23, 2011) – Marking the first "International Widows Day," widows, advocates from civil society, diplomats, UN officials, NGOs and other dignitaries will convene at the UN today to raise awareness for the plight of the more than 245 million widows and more than 500 million of their children around the world.  According to research by the Loomba Foundation, the largest NGO dedicated to promoting the rights of widows’ issues, many widows live in conditions of abject poverty and degradation and are victims of many forms of violence. Addressing the plight of widows is central to achieving the UN Millennium Development goals and social and economic justice for women.

Dr. Gillian Tett moderated panels at today’s conference. Participants in the panels included Dr. Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women; Madame Sylvia Bongo Ondimba, First Lady of the Gabonese Republic; Mrs. Cherie Blair, President of the Loomba Foundation; Lord Raj Loomba, Founder of the Loomba Foundation; Mrs. Ban Soon Taek, wife of the United Nations Secretary General;   Mr. Amir Dossal, Founder of the Global Partnerships Forum.

The United Nations Secretary General Mr. Banki Moon vocalized his support for International Widows Day, “We must recognize the important contribution of widows, and we must ensure that they enjoy the rights and social protections they deserve.” 

Mrs. Cherie Blair, who has been a champion for the rights of widows since her time as First Lady of the United Kingdom, said, “An invisible humanitarian catastrophe, which condemns more than 750 million women and their children to poverty, degradation, slavery, and in many cases death, hides in the shadows of the world. Today we celebrate a signal event—the inaugural UN International Widows Day. Today we, the international community, stand up for this marginalized population.”

This rare designation of an international day of recognition by the UN follows independent verification of shocking levels of violence and deprivation faced by hundreds of millions of widows worldwide. Since its inception in 1997, The Loomba Foundation has spearheaded the campaign to advocate for widows’ rights globally. 

Lord Loomba said, “I saw my own mother suffer after my father died of tuberculosis. As soon as my father stopped breathing my mother also stopped being an individual. She could only wear white clothes, she was belittled and ostracized. She lived in this shadow for 37 years until her death.  I started this charity and began this journey in honor of my mother, and with the passage of International Widows’ Day we can help widows worldwide so that they do not suffer the injustices my mother had inflicted upon her.” He added, “With the recognition of International Widows’ Day by the UN and the leadership of such individuals as Dr. Bachelet, we can move this issue to the forefront of people’s minds so that they can take meaningful action.”


The Loomba Foundation


The Loomba Foundation was established by Raj Loomba CBE and his wife Veena in the UK in 1997. It promotes fundamental freedoms and human rights of widows and their children around the world, raising awareness of the gross injustices widows face and seeking to remove stigmas associated with widowhood.

The Loomba Foundation declared 23rd June as International Widows Day at the House of Lords in May, 2005. The Foundation also published a comprehensive Research Study on widows worldwide and the first edition of was presented to the UN Secretary General, HE Ban Ki Moon on 22nd June, 2010 followed by presentations to the President of India and the US Secretary of State.

The Foundation collaborates with UN bodies, other NGOs, government officials, human rights advocates and prominent leaders to fight for the over 245 million widows worldwide who suffer prejudice and discrimination.

The Loomba Foundation seeks to bring about gender sensitive reform of national laws and policies, eradicating anti-widow superstitions, traditions, and social practices.  It fosters gender equality and women’s empowerment by implementing poverty-reduction strategies and educational opportunities for widow’s and their children.



In order to address the plight of hundreds of millions of widows worldwide, the UN General Assembly unanimously declared June 23 as the International Widows Day in December 2010.  This rare designation led by the Republic of Gabon, came in the wake of revelations of shocking levels of violence ad deprivation faced by these women and their children around the world.

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South-South News is an initiative launched in February 2010 during the sixteenth session of the United Nation General Assembly High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation (SSC). The vision for South-South News is to advance the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through the sharing of best practices in the areas of South-South and Triangular Cooperation. South-South News disseminates news about Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. South-South News is a digital media platform for the countries of the South that is facilitating, connecting, and publishing news on various efforts in sustainable economic and social development to audiences and multiple constituencies not only in the South but also around the world.



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